Who doesn't love a good sparkling cocktail? This fun, interactive activity is a great way to engage your guests and is easy to implement.
Inspired by the Classic Champagne Cocktail (made with Angostura Bitters, sugar, Champagne and a lemon twist), our DIY bar introduces many types of bitters, bubbly and garnishes that can be combined in countless ways. It's great for all kinds of events, from small private parties to large scale receptions, and in all seasons. In summer, you can incorporate seasonal berries and fresh herbs. In winter, focus on citrus and holiday spices.
Here's what you'll need:
There's no need to spend a lot of money on expensive Champagne here - you can use almost any type of sparkling wine. We recommend choosing dry ones such as a Brut Sparkling or Cava, or a dry Prosecco. Rosé is fun to throw into the mix, and will add a fruity note to the cocktails. We like to feature a range of wines so guests can experience different flavor profiles.
Bitters are a flavoring agent made from infusing roots, barks, fruit peels, spices, herbs - you name it - in high-proof alcohol. They add dimension and depth to cocktails and are an integral ingredient of some of the most famous, like Angostura in the Old Fashioned. These days there are tons of different kinds of bitters available, from rose to cardamom to root beer and beyond. We are big fans of Scrappy's Bitters and The Bitter Truth, whose line ups include a wide range of flavors. Think about showcasing a few traditional flavors, like Angostura, Peychaud's and Orange Bitters, as well as a few more esoteric ones.
These bring out the flavors of the bitters and help balance their bitterness.
The Classic Champagne Cocktail calls for a lemon twist, and you can use all kinds of other citrus - orange, grapefruit, tangerine - as garnishes. Fruits like strawberries and raspberries are delicious for summer, as are thin pear slices or muddled cranberries in fall and winter. Herbs like mint, lemon verbena, sage and even basil can be incorporated as well. Clap herbs between your hands before adding to the cocktail to release the essential oils.
Next, it's time to set up your bar:
We like to set ours up in four stages.
- Add a sugar cube
- Choose your bitters and add a few dashes on top of the sugar cube
- Choose your garnish(es)
- Top with the bubbles of your choice. The sugar cube will start to fizz when it comes into contact with the wine, releasing the aromatics of the bitters into your cocktail.
It's also a nice touch to provide notecards for your guests to write down their combinations, or provide them with ideas of what flavors will work well together.